Be Financially Fair to Your Kids

Advice & Stories, Dave Ramsey, Expert Q&A
on January 9, 2012

Dave Ramsey is a money management expert, national radio personality and best-selling author.

Dear Dave,
We have three children, ages 15, 10 and 9. With our oldest starting high school and just being a teenager, we’re spending lots more money on her than on the others. It’s almost like she’s the favorite child. Should we spend more on the other kids to make things seem a little more fair?
—Julie in St. Louis, Mo.

Dave Says: I don’t think so. In five or six years, it’ll be their turn and you guys will be spending that kind of money on them, too. That’s the way it is with teens.

Here’s a question for you. When the 15-year-old is 23, and you’re buying prom dresses and all the other teenage stuff for the younger kids, are you going to turn around and give the older child extra money just to “even things up”? Of course not—that would be silly. She had her moment in the sun, and now it’s their turn. Just make sure you love on them all equally, and tell the youngsters, “Live long and prosper.” As in, if you live long enough, you’ll get to prosper!

Turn down dad’s offer

Dear Dave,
We’re about to have a baby, but it will cut our income in half since I’ll be a stay-at-home mom. My dad has offered to help us out by paying off our student loan debt and letting us pay him back over time. What do you think about this?
—Beth in Tyler, Texas

Dave Says: That’s a very sweet idea, but I’d have to say no. I don’t think you want to take a chance on messing up a good relationship with your dad, and this would change things. At the very least, it would change how your husband feels. The borrower is slave to the lender. When you have dinner with your master instead of dad, it changes how things taste. I’d rather be in debt to Sallie Mae than to my father. If he wants to just pay off the debt as a gift, I’d graciously consider accepting. But if he wants to make it a loan, I think I’d pass.

Related: Teaching Your Kids About Investing

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